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The rise of 50-point games in the NBA

A chart showing an increase in 50 point games
Data: Basketball Reference; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

At the start of the decade, 50-point games in the NBA were a special occasion. Now, thanks to an offensive revolution sparked by the deep ball, they're a weekly occurrence.

The backdrop: During the 2009-10 season, only three players scored 50 points in a game: Brandon Jennings (55), Andre Miller (52) and Carmelo Anthony (50). The following season, there were only two: LeBron James (51) and Melo again (50).

  • In other words, over the course of two full seasons, the entire NBA managed only five 50-point games.

Fast-forward: In March 2019, the NBA managed seven. And this season, we've already seen another seven: James Harden (60, 59, 50); Damian Lillard (60); D'Angelo Russell (52), Giannis Antetokounmpo (50) and Kyrie Irving (50).

Last night: Harden dropped 50 in a bizarre double-OT loss to the Spurs that might have to be replayed due to a blown call.

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